Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanks for the rush!

It has been a beautiful fall here in New England, and I have been taking some early morning bike rides. It is dark when I head out, so I have the full panoply of reflective gear and a clear and strong headlight. It is good to be seen by drivers in their cars.

In the picture, I am the "X" just making a right hand turn at a corner in which there is a rotary around which approaching cars from the opposite direction are supposed to go when making a left turn (top black line).

Except, this time, the guy driving a minivan at about 30 mph decides he is at Le Mans and choose to make the left turn by bypassing the rotary altogether and driving in the left lane and cutting the corner (lower line).

He finally wakes up and sees me and swerves and misses me by a foot. Never stopping. But accelerating off as he departs the scene.

I can't tell you how much I appreciated the adrenaline rush. I had been just a little chilly as I set out that day, and this event quickly warmed up my whole body.

17 comments:

Hanif Kanji said...

Hey Paul - thanks to your blog, it's great to be able to stay in touch with a fellow "B4Lifer" - I need to create one soon!

Hehe, not sure what you got into, was the best way to be getting warmed up out there, fortunately it wasn't a dengerous situation.

Here in Toronto, Ontario, The motorist-cyclist war has been a topic of public interest anf some heated debate especially with regard to building of cycle lanes as part of the roadway infrastructure and how this would impact traffic, safety etc.

Over the summer there was a major incident where a cyclist lost his life in an accident with a motorist who turned out to be a political big shot - I think he was a high profile cabient minister who sped off with the irate cyclist hanging onto his vehicle. This is now a huge criminal case sure to be a media frenzy when it starts. The manner in which the incident occured, has triggered a whole slew of debates aroung cyclist vs motorists!

If interested, Look up "Michael Brynat and cyclist" on Google for the full story.

Paul Levy said...

Here it is: http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/689220. Ugly.

"Former Ontario attorney general Michael Bryant has been charged with criminal negligence causing death after a 33-year-old cyclist was struck and killed last night.

"He was also charged with dangerous operation of a vehicle causing death."

Equbal said...

Don't know how it warmed you up Paul. Sends chills up my spine. Thank goodness nothing happened to you.

I came across a dangerous situation on my motorcycle where this Granny driving her oldsmobile at about 20mph, passed me slowly from the left, turned on her left turn indicator, changed lane into the far left one and then made a sharp right into a residence, crossing two lanes on her way on the right. I missed her only because I jammed the brakes, tilting my motorcycle to the ground and letting it go with sparks flying from the road while I jumped off of it and walked away.

When I eventually gathered myself and my bike, she was in the driveway, totally clueless of what she had done while I was hot and furious from the adrenaline rush with a heartbeat of about 160 beats per minute.

There are too many irresponsible drivers out there.

Be safe.

Anonymous said...

I too used to ride my bike at 5 am till the paperman almost got me. It was then I learned the value of a helmet.
Cripes, you don't want to be a trauma patient in your own hospital! The drivers aren't expecting to see you at that hour, and the bikers always lose.

nonlocal

Paul Levy said...

Nonlocal,

And we wouldn't even make money off of me as a patient since we are self-insured.

Thanks, Equbal. In Boston, street signs and the like are considered strictly advisory . . .

Michael Pahre said...

Glad you didn't get hit. And next to a middle school, no less.

I hope you warmed up your vocal chords and lungs on that one. There's nothing like a few very loud screams to let a M@ssh*le driver know that he was breaking the law and nearly killed someone. I have to do it once every week or two.

JClev19 said...

As a fellow bike-commuter, I can certainly relate, though the drivers I encounter in Cambridge tend to be a little more respectful of cyclists in general (though not much). Good to hear you're OK and not getting too worked up about the incident, but I definitely feel like this is probably the most dangerous time to be on the roads here in NE. The morning traffic level is higher, it's dark, and everyone's in a hurry.

It sounds like you were smartly riding defensively, which is always good practice. Whenever a potentially dangerous situation arises, I always assume that every driver is going to make the worst decision possible, and they often do.

Hoping to see you on the pitch this weekend.

e-Patient Dave said...

I have to say, with 40 years exposure to Boston drivers, I've never seen that one: cheating on a rotary. Wow, that's a new level of nasty.

Sure wish you had a "cop cam" on your bike to capture the license or other ID. Maybe that's a new use for a Flip: strap it on to shoulder or handlebars.

Shivers up my spine, too.

And nonlocal, cripes, you weren't a helmet-wearer??? I hope you remember Paul's advice to incoming residents - "You know the word for bicycling residents who don't wear helmets, right? Organ donors."

SO glad this one didn't turn out that way.

Adam Gaffin said...

Some poor guy in Natick wasn't as lucky as you last night.

Paul Levy said...

JClev19,

This was at 5am, well before commuting hour. I am back home by 7 at the latest. The idea is to be out and back well before the rush hour when there are very few cars and when notwithstanding the dark, you are actually quite visible from the headlights and reflectors. Until now, cars have always seen me and given wide berth because they have plenty of room on the road.

PFN said...

This made me laugh... mostly because of your reaction to the situation.
1. Wow, that warmed me up!
2. Hey, I should be an organ donor!

Asif-Aly said...

Glad you'r safe Paul!

- Asif

Anonymous said...

Dave;

yes, I have always been a helmet wearer. I said I learned its value b/c I fell straight forward onto the pavement and most certainly would have died from a depressed frontal skull fracture w/o the helmet. As it was, my nose didn't feel so good....
I am glad Paul was moved to become an organ donor by this experience, but I was in my own neighborhood, with the same "nobody will be out" thoughts as he had. I think finding a park or a track or something would be far safer; Paul you are too valuable a mind to lose!

nonlocal

Paul Levy said...

A few transferred comments from Facebook:

Bill: If you ride enough you will have a few near misses. It is the non-misses that really get you. The more you ride the more likely you are to have near misses and fewer non-misses.

Cynthia: You definitely have to bike defensively and be alert. I was almost broadsided by what looked like a long black Mafia "hit man" car that suddenly took a sharp right turn in front of me at a corner in Newton off Washington St. at high speed. Fortunately, I was able to brake and jump off the bike before we hit. Adrenaline does have its benefits!

Jennnifer: Much as I would like to ride in the early morning, stories like this keep me off my bike until it's fully light. Glad you are ok.

Mary said...

Paul, Thank goodness he saw you!

Maine has a new law prohibiting driving while distracted. Part of its impetus was reaction to the driver pulled over while watching Gilmore Girls on DVD.

Heather said...

Hi Paul..I have been reading your blog on occasion due to my new educational track towards a Master's in Healthcare. We did a case study on you. Here in Portland, OR bicycle commuting is a popular and hotly debated subject. There have been several recent deaths due to right hand turns in front of bike riders. Downtown Portland is experimenting with new right hand turn lanes for cars. As a driver I find them really confusing...

Love your blog and am glad you are OK. I break horses for a hobby and would rather do that then ride a bike on a public street!

Heather

animatedblader said...

I was hit in 2005. I was riding home from work at about 6:30pm on the Mass Ave bridge. It was a dark winter night and there was a slight mist. Because there was no bike lane back then, and because there was a pile of snow on the side of the road and the sidewalk, I was riding in a lane. I heard a car honking and blacked out for a second. When I came back into consciousness, I was flying. It sounds cool, but it wasn't. The first thing I tried to figure out was why I was longer on my bike. That gave way to planning my landing. I went for the hands and knees approach, but I came down with such force that my head scraped on the ground too. It was a good thing I had a helmet on. After a few seconds of sliding on the pavement, I came to a stop and my bike slid past me. I looked behind me and there are cars in both lanes. It seemed like the car in the right lane(my lane) didn't see me in time to stop despite my blinking red light. When he did see me, he couldn't move into the other lane and go around me because another car was there. I wanted to go over to the two drivers and have a "gentlemanly discussion" about what had just transpired, but I was in severe back pain and decided to lie down on the cold, wet pavement and wait for help. I would recommend getting the brightest lights you can find for the front and back. Try them out in the shop. If it doesn't blind you, people in cars won't be able to see them.